Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Press translations [Japan]. Political Series 0052, 1945-12-04.
Supreme Commander for The Allied Powers. Allied Translator and Interpreter Section.

translation-number: political-0213

call-number: DS801 .S85

(View Page Image)
No. 213 Date: 4 Dec 45


ITEM 1 Four Ex-TOJO Cabinet Men Will Resign Diet Membership - Asahi Shimbun - 30 Nov 45. Translator: H. Kato.
Messrs. MURATA, Shozo; KAYA, Okinori; SUZUKI, Teichi; and TERASHIMA, Ken, members of the House of Peers by Imperial Nomination, currently detained by the Allied authorities as war crimes suspects, tendered their resignations as Diet members on Thursday. The House of Peers took the resignations into consideration and reported them to the Throne on the same day. INO, Hiroya and HASHIMOTO, Kinjiro, also, both members of the House of Representatives, recently incarcerated in OMORI Prison as war crimes suspects, tendered their resignations to the Speaker of the House through the Central Liaison Office.
ITEM 2 Comments on Labor Union Law ([illegible]), by Mr. ARAHATA, Kanson ([illegible]) - Yomiuri Hochi - 30 Nov 45. Translator; J. Weiller.
Full Translation:
The Labor Union Law, drafted by the Welfare Department, has now been submitted to the 89th Session of the Diet and is awaiting its fate. It was in 1931, when the late Mr. HAMAGUCHI was head of the Government that a labor union law was submitted to the Diet, and, although passed by the House of Representatives, it was pigeonholed by the House of Peers. Since then, not even one bill of its kind has been brought before the Diet.
There was a strike at the Taff Vale Railway in South WALES in 1900 and the Railway Company, having sustained damages, sued the Railway-men's Union and the High Court awarded the Company 41,000 pounds. This is known as the Taff Vale Case. Furthermore, in 1908, OSBOURNE, the Director of the above Union, brought suit against the Union's taking contributions from the members or paying out of its own funds to support the Labor Party. He won this case both in the court of appeals and in the High Court. These judicial precendents proved, for a long time, grave hindrances to the labor union movement in Endland, until 1913, when the Union Law was revised. It is estimated that the profit which the railway shareholders gained until 1913 due to the ineffective Union Law was not much less than 50 million pounds. How much more, then, have the Japanese capitalists gained, or in other words, the working classes, lost, with no labor union law at all, not even an imperfect one.
However, a bill is before the Diet and whon it has passed the Houses and is enacted, will become a weapon to be wielded by unionized workers. The working class, judging by the opinions and attitudes of the various political parties, must keep its eyes wide open and closely watched whether democracy is merely a show and whether the parties are in reality the capitalists' friends. Labor must decide

(View Page Image)
POLITICAL SERIES: 52 (Continued)
ITEM 2 (Continued)
whether the bill in question is a sharp weapon or a blunt one for the working classes.
The impression one gains when glancing through the contents of the bill is that, on the whole, it is fairly progressive, and one can safely say that it is well written. It furnishes the formalities requisite to the establishment of a democratic organization now being demanded from every quarter in JAPAN. For example, in chapter one of the General Provisions, while providing for independent development of labor unions, guarantee, the right of combination, and in Chapter Two, it confirms the right of Collective bargaining and the right to strike. One may say that this is quite natural for a union law enacted in the preterit age, yet compared with the bill of years back one finish a world of difference between the two. Let us examine the meaning of some principal articles here.
In Article One, by guaranteeing the right of combination, the bill helps advancement of the workers, economic, social and political position. This may be taken as interpreting the nature of labor unions in an extremely broad sense; it legalizes the workmen's liberty to attempt the promotion of his social, economic and political status by making use of his right to organize. Such a wide and liberal interpretation regarding the nature and function of labor unions can hardly find a parallel in the laws of any other nation. Article Two prevents the application of the Criminal Law, Law of Control of Violent Acts, Regulations for Police Offences, the Law of Execution of Administration, Publication Law, etc., to union members' activities, performed during the attainment of these objectives.
By these provisions we can dispel the fears, as we experienced in the past, of penal servitude because of strikes or detention by the police for holding street demonstrations or arrests for making agitating speeches. Article Three goes on to say, "A labor union is a corporation or a federation, composed of laborers for the independent maintenance and improvement of labor conditions," A labor union being the laborers' Declaration of Independence, must be spontaneous; therefore, it goes without saying, that, as mentioned in Paragraphs One to Three, the participation of employers or representatives of their interests, or a co-operative institution aiming simply at welfare with the employers' financial assistance is unthinkable. The law is reasonable in that it does not limit the form the union should adopt. Of course, it is desirable for the unions to have a different make-up, depending on different industries, but in case a labor union is formed where there is none, any form and organizing process must be permitted, depending on the conditions the workers are facing.
Among the articles on labor unions the most important ones are Articles 9 to 11, these stating that the union's representative is authorized to bargain with the employers or their representative; that the employers cannot dismiss the workman because of his union membership nor can they force a workman to refuse participation in a union or force him to leave a union. That, in case the employees sustain some sort of damage through a strike or other dispute the employer cannot demand any indemnity from the union, its members, or its official. By these provisions the capitalists can no longer deny union representatives the right to collective bargaining, nor make individual contracts with workers under the pretty phrase "freedom of contract." Nor can they claim so-called victimization as
- 2 -

(View Page Image)
POLITICAL SERIES: 52 (Continued)
ITEM 2 (Continued)
grounds for breaking up a union or for the protection of a non-union factory, As long is these three fundamental conditions are not securely guaranteed the labor union is nothing but a hollow shell.
Chapter Three enumerates the articles dealing with Labor Conventions and can be said to be quite acceptable. The aim of collective bargaining is to rectify the disadvantages liable, to arise under individual negotiations or contracts with the employer. In England, in 1914, a labor union made an agreement with the capitalists on wages and working conditions, embracing all the industries throughout the land, and local differences were only taken into consideration within the limits of the agreement. It is essential for a union to impose its standardized conditions on an occupation or industry. On the other hand, as provided for in Article 21, "In case a standard has been decided regarding the workers' treatment, such a standard shall have legally binding power on the workers and employers to whom said agreement applies." The labor union, while it can legally bind the capitalists under an agreement must, also, be bound itself. Consequently, where there is a clause in the agreement to the effect that a Dispute will be put to arbitration or mediation, strikes or lockouts are not permitted (Art. 24) without first referring them to arbitration.
However, there are instances where laborers may lose a strategic chance if they have to sit quietly and await an arbiter's decision, but the employers can make use of that delay caused by arbitration for their better advantage since, while the workers cannot go into a strike, the capitalists can buy goods, employ "scabs" and thus have greater flexibility during arbitration. Besides, the capitalists, unlike the laborers who lose their income during strike or lockout, can make a gain by selling surplus products during that time.
Article 24, to which I shall refer later, has a great significance in relation to Article 12 of Chapter Two, and in order for a union to avoid the risk of self-restriction it is advisable to conclude a short-period convention "not exceeding three years" as provided for in Article 20. As MANN, Tom, veteran of the English Labor Union movement warned, "Labor unions should never conclude a long term agreement with the capitalists."
I admit that the bill is, on the whole, progressive and does not contain any serious defects, though I do not mean to say it is ideal. If I try to pick the points which are disadvantageous to a union, they may practically offset the meritorious provisions in the bill.
First, the provision in Article 11, of Chapter Two, which says, "excepting where a disputant action has been done against the previsions of Article 24." That is, in case of a strike against the clause to the effect that a dispute shall be referred to an arbitration or mediation, a union, its members, or officers, are held responsible for damages caused by the dispute. This, in practice, makes the union's right to strike merely nominal, in that it makes both capital and labor similarly responsible for a dispute by reason of a mere breach of convention. It ignores the worker's economic circumstances which are absolutely inferior to those of the capitalists. The above-mentioned provision and the paragraph of Article 24 should be deleted from this bill.
Second, in Article 14 it is stipulated that in case a labor union
- 3 -

(View Page Image)
POLITICAL SERIES: 52 (Continued)
ITEM 2 (Continued)
disturbs public peace by frequent violations of the Laws, a court of justice can, when so requested by the Labor Committee, order a labor union's dissolution. But I should like to ask what constitutes "frequent" and what scope or what degree is meant by "disturbing the public peace." In view of present acute living conditions, under which the working class is groaning, who can vouchsafe that in order to accomplish its object through the union movement by Article One, Chapter One, the workmen may not often act contrary to the current laws or regulations or may not go to lengths deemed as disturbing public peace? The problems which the present day workmen have to solve are unprecedented in the history of JAPAN, whereas the "laws and regulations" and "public peace" are simply remnants of the past, entirely cut of harmony with prevailing circumstances. Such provisions are comparable with the reactionary English Labor Union Law of 1927, which provided that all strikes, outside of strikes in the strict sense of the word, would be Low breaking. It, too, falls far short or the French Labor Union Law which prohibits a sympathetic strike or general strike. Third, according to Chapter 4, the authority of the Labor Committee and local governor are quite extensive so a labor union's movements will be affected thereby. For instance, as mentioned above, in case the Labor Committee says a strike is "disturbing public peace in violation of the laws" and notifies a court of justice, the latter may order the dissolution of the union. Suppose the labor representatives who compose the committee happen to be members of a union of conservative tendency, and out of prejudice to a radical union's actions, approve such a statement by the Committee? Still worse are the provisions in Article 21 which makes even a powerful Labor Committee weak before the local governor.
In spite of the provision of the first paragraph of Article 21, "In case the labor conditions of laborers engaged in a certain industry or occupation are especially evil, the Labor Committee, after having investigated the actual condition, and after having drawn up a concrete plan of improvement, may recommend it to the local governor," In the following paragraph it says, "When the local governor receives the recommendation as made under the foregoing paragraph, and recognizes the necessity he may indicate a fixed method of improving labor conditions to the employers concerned." If, then, the local governor does not "recognize the necessity," the unionized industry or occupation protected by the law and in need of help, may not have its improper conditions rectified, in spite of the labor committee's suggestion. These provisions of Chapter 4, regarding the labor committee, are aimed at its duties, composition, responsibilities and business. According to these, the committee will be composed of equal numbers of members representing the employers, workmen and a third party. Labor unions must not disregard this important organ; on the contrary, it must make use of it as much as possible.
The example of the English Miner's Federation should be a good lesson to our unions. In 1919, when nationalization of coal mines in England brought about a national crisis, the union startled capital by recommending three economists and statisticians of the Fabian Society as industrial delegates. These tactics resulted in making both the Goverment an' capitalists approve the nationalization. Such a method is essential in the case of a public conference as provided for in Article 27. In short, whether to make the Union law the workmen's real weapon or a mere ornament depends on how unions handle it.
- 4 -

(View Page Image)
POLITICAL SERIES: 52 (Continued)
ITEM 2 (Continued)
I was sentenced to four months' imprisonment in 1918 because of a small periodical I was editing with Mr. YAMAKAWA, Hitashi, advocating the organization of a labor union and arousing the workmen against the capitalists. Recalling the past, I cannot help but be filled with elation.
- 5 -
HomePress translations [Japan]. Political Series 0052, 1945-12-04.
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only